Guilford Is In “The Times” Again— Yes, With Ayn Rand

Most folks who speak often in public tend to have a collection of anecdotes they repeat to illustrate familiar points. Dr. King, for instance, had a whole stack of sermon passages, which he shuffled like a deck of cards, to fill out various addresses. (Yes, “I have a dream” was one.)

Wendy Brown, academic doyenne, is another, still very much alive. She also has her go-to stories. Not being an academic, I only know one of hers: the tale of the near-broke little Carolina Quaker college which sold its soul to an Ayn Rand-obsessed mega-donor, for half a million dollars and a ten-year supply of her doorstop clunker screed, Atlas Shrugged.

Brown dropped this nugget into a lengthy Times interview early last month, which we duly noted here.

But that wasn’t enough for The Paper of Record.

Brown was back in today’s (June 21) Times, for an additional sizable chunk of their “Talk” section, under the heading of, “Why Critics of Angry Woke College Kids Are Missing the Point.”  And amid her ruminations on cancel culture, classroom free speech and suchlike, she dropped the Quaker college water balloon again:

Here I think it’s time to talk about the very serious right-wing effort to use free speech and freedom more generally as a flag for a political, social and moral project. On campus, for example, the constant harangues about cancel culture and wokeness on the left that you get from the right keep us from seeing enormous amounts of foundation money and use of the state to try to control what is taught, to build institutes and curriculums that comport with a right-wing engine.

Guilford College, this little Quaker school in North Carolina takes half a million dollars from a foundation in love with Ayn Rand. Every econ and business major in the college for the next 10 years had to be given a copy of “Atlas Shrugged,” and at the center of the curriculum there had to be a course in which “Atlas Shrugged” was the required textbook.

This version shares with Brown’s original the virtue of being true, but with the added advantage of leaving the “desperate” Quaker school out of it.

There’s a bromide asserting that any publicity is good publicity.  Well, that may work if you’re a fraudster-predator looking for work as the U.S. president. But even if I’m out on a limb here, I just don’t think this image of a desperate little Quaker college, with its prexy on a corner in Greensboro rattling a tin cup, is a good look; and selling (or even renting) itself to a deep-pocketed bibliophile? To see that one jumping out of the pages of the New York Times again and again, makes me want to hide behind that sign over there, until the gawkers have passed by.
And who the heck IS John Galt, anyway?


4 thoughts on “Guilford Is In “The Times” Again— Yes, With Ayn Rand”

  1. I replied to your prior notice of this hot potato issue with a description of how a commitment to the process of intellectual discernment could have been organized around Atlas Shrugged, arming the students with a Jesuit-like ability to argue against that particular screed.


    If Quakers don’t get that intellectual discernment is the answer to intellectual crud, just as spiritual discernment is the answer to spiritual crud, then all is lost.

    1. Hank — not sure what you were expecting: I had no connection to Guilford in the period of this grant; and as far as I know, the grant period expired a few years ago.
      I agree about both the value of intellectual discernment, and the serious lack thereof in the RSOF about many important matters we confront. I’m not sure what to do in response beyond writing & publishing.

      1. You’re doing your part: teeing it up and inviting others to take a swing. Thanks.

        Convincing others seems to get confused with intellectual discernment, for starters. And with that start, there is no good finish.

  2. John Galt is an incarnation of chaos with freedom to hurt without being held accountable, aka the Dark Man and similar in writings of Stephen King, aka Loki in Norse mythology, aka Lucifer in popular mythology, aka Putin/Trump (are they not the same?) in politics, aka preachers of churches for profit.

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